A dazzling Zozibini Tunzi has been crowned Miss South Africa 2019 as the iconic pageant proudly celebrated Women’s Day with a glittering and star-studded event at the Sun Arena, in Time Square, Pretoria.
The 25-year-old public relations graduate from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape, and now resident in Cape Town, will receive R1-million in cash as well as a further R2 million worth of sponsorships and prizes, including the use of a luxury Sandton apartment and a Mercedes-Benz cabriolet for a year.
Runner-up was Sasha-Lee Olivier (26), from Alberton, who received R250 000 in cash.
Winner of the People’s Choice was Chuma Matsaluka, 21, from Nyanga in the Western Cape, who is in her third year of a humanities degree at UCT.
In her Miss South Africa acceptance speech, an emotional Tunzi said: “For as long as I can remember, I always knew that I had to do something extraordinary with my life. I knew that to live a fulfilling life I had to live a purposeful life; a life of service. I believe that every single person was brought into this world for a purpose and that we should never leave the world as we found it, we should always strive to make a positive change.
“At a young age I did not have a clear idea of how I would achieve this, but I knew I had to find a way to be impactful and to be a catalyst for positive change in my community and even the world. Finally, everything has come full circle as I find myself with the Miss South Africa crown, ready to deliver on the promises I have been making since I was child. I am inspired by the likes of Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana and those of their calibre. They understood fully what it means to be selfless and to stand for something.
I stand for the education of the South African youth, for equality and representation, as a Miss South Africa, I cannot wait to make a contribution to these important social causes. I came into this competition with my natural hair as a symbol of my firm belief in fair representation of any shape and form. And so, through my win, I hope I have inspired people, even if just one person to be themselves at all times and to never compromise their identities, and to insert themselves in spaces where they feel that people like them do not belong. Because the truth is, we do belong and in the words of the actress Lupita Nyong’o ‘Your dreams are valid’.
Zozibini Tunzi | Miss South Africa 2019
Tell us more about yourself:
I currently reside in Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape where I work and study.
However, my home is Tsolo, eSdwadweni in the Eastern Cape. I graduated with an ND Public Relations Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and am currently completing my B-Tech in PR at the same institution while working fulltime at Ogilvy Cape Town, doing a PR undergraduate programme.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won:
Miss Mamelodi Sundowns WC 2015
Why did you want to be Miss SA?
I entered Miss South Africa because it will now contribute towards my goal of living a purposeful life. I have always been inspired by people who do extraordinary things in life; people who are agents of positive change and impactful in their societies and in the world. I have always believed that as human beings we exist to do more than just serve ourselves. A portion of our lives should be dedicated to being of service to others, especially those who need help the most. I want to be Miss South Africa because I am ready to tap in fully into that selfless aspect of myself. I come from one of the most disadvantaged provinces in South Africa and I have seen first-hand how a little help can have a huge impact on someone’s life. I want to be able to do that for someone.
Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you?
Basetsana Khumalo has inspired me in so many ways. When she won Miss SA 1994 it was at a time when South Africa was transitioning from its difficult political past. She was the epitome of what a black South African woman would be in the future and she did more than just win a crown. She was fighting a battle of being black and being a woman trying to do something extraordinary in a time that was almost impossible for black women to even dream. Even though she doesn’t know me, she has taught me a great deal about dreaming big and forcefully kicking down closed doors when I have been told I can’t do it or do not belong there. Another beautiful thing about her journey is that she managed to use her platform to do amazing things for her life and the lives of others. She is a successful entrepreneur and award-winning philanthropist. Everything a Miss South Africa should aspire to be.
Who are your role models?
As cliché as this may sound my role models are my parents. I have learnt so much from them. My mother has taught me the importance of remaining kind and humble and always being helpful to those around me. My father has taught me the importance of education, of hard work and discipline. Most important they have equally moulded me to be who I am today.
Tell us a bit more about your family:
My family is the most important part of my life. I once read somewhere that a child chooses their parents. If that is true, my family is the best decision I have made in my life so far. Everything else could be falling apart but they remain the constant centre of my joy.
My mother is a school principal at Bangweni JSS, a school in a village called Bolotwa. She has taught me to always be kind and respectful towards people. My father works in Pretoria at the department of Higher Education and Training. Growing up he always maintained a balance between being strict and loving and he still does. He has taught me everything I know about hard work, being ambitious and about setting and reaching my goals. I have three sisters, Yanga (30), Sibabalwe (24) and Ayakha (13). I always say they are my sisters
by birth but best friends by choice.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love food, so whenever I get a chance, I grab my sister and friend and we try out restaurants we’ve never been to before. I like to read and I absolutely love documentaries and real-life stories. I also enjoy the beach, whether I’m lying on the sand or riding a bike along the coast.
Miss South Africa 2019 was crowned on Women’s Day – what does this mean to
For me this competition has always been about the empowerment and upliftment of women and to align it with Women’s Day makes it all the more special. Now more than ever women are rising to take their rightful places at the forefront of greatness. A baton was passed on
to us by the women who marched back on 9 August 1956 to continue the work of shattering glass ceilings, kicking down closed doors and being women of great stature who rise and open doors for other women. As woman, it is our responsibility to make sure that the baton never falls. We have to pass it on to the next generation of women.
In which way do you think beauty pageants are still relevant today? – how would you respond to someone who says they totally aren’t?
The first misconception people have about beauty queens is that they have no depth, which is why they don’t find the relevance in beauty pageants. This is far from the truth. Through pageants I have entered in the past I have met so many inspirational women from different industries doing amazing things for their lives and their societies. Looking at the past contestants of the Miss SA competition we have seen the most brilliant minds grace the stage. Beauty pageants in 2019 are more than just outer beauty, they are about what an individual can offer to the world. They are about being impactful, being an empowered woman who can empower other women as well. That can never be irrelevant.
Name your female role model?
Thabile Ngwato. Her drive speaks directly to me because she is a millennial like myself. She recently launched her own news channel along with a partner. To be able to do that at such a young age takes guts, discipline and ambition and I aspire to be like her.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
The most important thing is to know yourself fully, because then you can love yourself unconditionally. One of the many challenges of being women is rooted from the lack of love we have for ourselves. If we love ourselves then we have already won half the battle.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I can sing. I never sing publicly but I’m pretty good.
What is the No 1 piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?
Be confident in yourself. Do not be afraid to shine and speak up more!
Describe yourself in three words:
Calm, relatable and persistent.
What are you reading?
The Secret – a self-help book by Rhonda Byrne
What music are you listening to?
Childish Gambino – Guava Island
Your favourite TV show?
Game of Thrones
Your favourite meal?
Umngqusho “Samp” and beef stew.
Who’s your celeb crush?
Jesse Williams (who plays Dr. Jackson Avery in Grey's Anatomy)
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Enjoying a DC comic ‘Wonder Woman’ as I am a hard-core Marvel fan.
The event, hosted by Bonang Matheba in front of an audience of thousands and broadcast live on M-Net and Mzansi Magic, was a spectacular affair with live music provided by some of the who’s who of the SA music industry including Sho Madjozi, Nasty C, Amanda Black and Jesse Clegg.
However, one of the most emotional moments was when the unsung “Mother of the Nation” award was given to Solani Mirriam Mazibuko (71) of the Orlando Children’s Home. She was honoured for her selflessness and unstinting dedication to children in distress and received R50 000 from the Miss South Africa Organisation and sponsors LFP Group.
Miss South Africa Organisation’s Stephanie Weil was delighted: “This year’s pageant was a spectacular tribute to Women’s Day and we couldn’t be more delighted with Zozibini who is a truly worthy winner and who embodies and personifies all the attributes of a Miss South Africa. Someone who is kind, generous, intelligent, caring, hardworking and beautiful inside and out and has a strong commitment to uplifting the women and children and those less fortunate.”
Said Gareth Flusk from Sun International: “Zozibini joins an illustrious sisterhood of women who have won the title and who have continued to make a difference long after their reign has ended. We believe that Zozibini will capture the hearts and imagination of South Africans and we look forward to seeing what she is going to achieve.”
Added LFP Group CEO Louis Pulzone: “After months of anticipation, we have finally crowned our queen! We are pleased to welcome Zozibini to the LFP Group family and to the country as a new ambassador for women and youth empowerment. The selection of Miss South Africa is no easy choice but amongst tough competition, Zozibini exudes leadership, focus and passion; we wish her all the best during her reign.”
The Miss South Africa 2019 judges were reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray, former Miss Universe and Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, queen of SA talk and radio jock Anele Mdoda, actress and businesswoman Connie Ferguson and SA model, activist and lawyer Thando Hopa.
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with Sun International and the LFP Group.